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Former California Highway Patrol officer Sean Harrington, based out of the Dublin, California office, surrendered to authorities on Monday. Harrington faces two counts of felony theft of computer data for stealing private photos from smartphones of people in police custody, and he recently resigned from the CHP. Harrington admitted to taking photos from around a "half dozen" female arrestees, with photos and commentary shared among several other officers.
Apparently, Harrington and several other officers thought it was a "game" to share photos of women, sending the photos to one another. In the most recent incident, a 23-year-old woman was arrested for suspected DUI and provided the officer her phone password so he could retrieve a phone number for her. While using her phone, Harrington sent photos to an officer, which the arrested female discovered when using her iPad after she was released from jail.
Here is what Michael Rains, Harrington's attorney, said to the local media: "You talk about paying the price for something you once called a game. You can't pay too much of a price for that, and frankly, it's not over. The women who were victimized by this deserve to be angry and upset because it's not a game, it's a serious matter."
Here we are, living in a world of Apple only just reaching 1920x1080 on its latest iPhone 6 Plus, while Japan's Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL) working with Nokia on some truly groundbreaking OLED display prototypes. Back in June, the two unveiled a 5.9-inch 1280x720 (720p and 249 PPI) display that could be folded in two, or in three - with two different prototypes being used.
Well, SEL are back, showing off a new 8.7-inch AMOLED, with the resolution cranked up to 1920x1080 (1080p and 254 PPI). These new panels are touch-capable, and can be tri-folded with the single prototype. SEL has done this by utilizing their CAAS-OS (C-Axis Aligned Crystalline Oxide Semiconductor) backplane, as well as a WRGB structure. The panels themselves are less than 100μm thick, weighing just 6 grams.
SEL was also teasing their new super-high-resolution AMOLED display, which was just 2.8 inches, with a resolution of 2560x1440 - this provides the tiny little OLED display with a PPI of 1058. The company had a large viewfinder on-hand to better show off its incredible technology.
Coffee giant Starbucks could very well be the leader in the mobile payment sector, as CEO Howard Schultz said his company handles 7 million mobile payments each week. Starbucks also has seen 16 percent of all its transactions coming from mobile devices, with almost 50 percent growth each year - and 90 percent of all mobile payments last year occurred in Starbucks.
Not surprisingly, Starbucks is keen to utilize technology, as its coffee shop locations throughout the United States draw a large number of tech-savvy customers. The company provides free Wi-Fi, mobile payments, and plans to roll out wireless charging stations built directly into tables.
Schultz also said he's not worried about Apple Pay, noting "anything that Apple or PayPal or others do that brings the consumer to a higher level of trust about mobile payment is positive for the marketplace at Starbucks."
Starwood Hotels has announced its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members will be able to use their smartphone as their room key, using the custom mobile, keyless entry system. The new mobile hotel key offering will be introduced at Aloft, Element and W Hotels across the world, but starts in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles and Doha.
The service officially goes live on Wednesday, November 5 - and should be implemented at 30,000 doors in 150 hotels by early 2015.
"Not only does SPG Keyless alleviate a perennial pain point for travelers, but it also transforms the first interaction with our guests from one that is transactional to something more personal," said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood Hotels. "This is just the beginning, because through mobile we have the opportunity to marry high tech and high touch to transform the hotel experience in many exciting ways."
The Amazon Fire smartphone was launched in July, and while it received a tremendous amount of hype, the phone fell completely flat. Amazon suffered a $170 million hit, mainly due to the Fire phone and associated supplier hardware costs, with the company also holding on to a whopping $83 million in unsold Fire units.
The 32GB model launched at $199, while the 64GB model originally cost $299 - typical pricing for new smartphone launches - but the company, which is well known for offering consumers cost-friendly prices, decided not to undercut Samsung, Apple, and other smartphone rivals.
Here is what David Limp, Amazon SVP of devices, recently noted in an interview: "I think people come to expect a great value, and we sort of mismatched expectations. We thought we had it right. But we're also willing to say, 'we missed.' And so we corrected."
Apple Pay might have all of the hype behind it, but CurrentC from the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), has a wider potential user base. In addition, CurrentC can also work with a client store's customer loyalty program, but mobile users will be unable to collect credit card perks. The service also works with any Google Android smartphone or Apple iPhone, while rival Apple Pay only is available to Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners.
However, news of being hacked, even with no customer payment data at risk, won't help attract users to the growing service. Interested consumers won't need to provide their driver's license or Social Security numbers, which is a growing concern as consumers are worried about mounting identity theft and data breach cases.
The service also has a strong backing by more than 50 major US retailers, with others expected to jump on the bandwagon in 2015. "When merchants join us, they have a choice... they can't have Apple Pay or Google Wallet until their exclusivity expires," said Scott Rankin, MCX chief operating officer.
Apple and other mobile payment providers are preparing for a long-term battle in the mobile payments sector, but it will ultimately be up to consumers to determine a winner. As additional retailers begin to embrace NFC-enabled mobile payments, their competitors will watch closely - and likely follow suit - offering the same type of payment services.
Mobile payments aren't new, but it appears Apple Pay and the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) CurrentC appear to be the two most serious competitors at the moment. As Apple Pay is available to a large number of US consumers, CurrentC - supported by Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, and a collective group of more than 50 major retailers - will have to take a more creative marketing approach to win over consumers.
"This skirmish will go on for a while, but ultimately it seems shortsighted to tell customers that you can't use their competitor's alternative," said Creditcards.com analyst Matt Schulz. "The baseline really is the credit card. The process of using one is still very easy, so everything compares to that."
Grocery chain Meijer plans to accept both Apple Pay and CurrentC mobile payments, serving as the only major CurrentC partner refusing to shun Apple Pay. The store has 200 locations across five states in the Midwest, and while it isn't the most influential Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) member, it's a clear sign that retailers want to give customers the chance to have more options while paying.
"We have had the technology in our stores to accept mobile wallets for several years now," said Frank Guglielmi, Meijer spokesman, in a recent statement to the media. "If a customer has Apple Pay capability, our hardware works with it. We don't plan to remove or disable these systems."
It's unknown if MCX will try to punish a member if they refuse to shun Apple Pay - but could be a sign of future efforts by retailers looking to appeal to as many customers as possible - though new partners that sign up for CurrentC could be fined because they are legally forbidden from accepting other rival systems.
Global smartphone shipments topped 320 million units during Q3 2014, with the Google Android operating system capturing 84 percent of global market share, according to Strategy Analytics. Considering Android's appeal, and low cost to deploy for phone manufacturers, Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry are struggling to try to compete.
Not surprisingly, Apple iOS was in the No. 2 spot with 39.3 million shipments, while Microsoft Windows was in No. 3 with 10.5 million global shipments in Q3. BlackBerry, the long-time smartphone king before the iPhone emerged, trailed with just 2.3 million shipments, as the company flirts with bankruptcy - and continued buyout rumors.
Here is what Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics, said in a press release: "Android's leadership of the global smartphone market looks unbeatable at the moment. Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide. However, challenges are emerging for Google. The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of hardware brands, Android smartphone prices are falling worldwide, and few Android device vendors make profits."
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is now the No. 3 smartphone manufacturer in the world, trailing behind only Apple and Samsung. Described as "China's Apple," it continues to be an impressive run for Xiaomi, which has surpassed Lenovo and LG, after manufacturing smartphones for just three years.
Here is what IDC noted about Xiaomi: "Xiaomi jumped into the top 5 list for the first time at the number 3 position thanks to its focus on China and adjacent markets, which resulted in triple-digit year-over-year growth. Key to its success was the launch of its Mi4 smartphone in August, which was positioned as a high-end alternative to the status quo. What remains to be seen is how quickly can move beyond its home territories to drive volumes higher."
It seems inevitable that Xiaomi will try to invade the United States and Western Europe in the future - but with Apple and Samsung having so much success in these markets - Xiaomi will invest additional time to ensure a stranglehold in China and other parts of Asia first.